Portugal declares World Youth Day amnesty for young convicts

World Youth Day

Portugal’s upcoming World Youth Day is turning out to be an enormous blessing for some young convicts.

The government has declared a one-year pardon for prisoners under the age of 30, if they’re serving sentences of up to eight years.

The amnesty was declared to mark World Youth Day, which Lisbon will host next month.

Citing the pope’s impending visit, Catholic organisations have been pushing for a general amnesty for young prisoners since April.

The amnesty

Besides reducing sentences for some prisoners, young convicts serving sentences of less than one year will be released.

Those who were not sentenced to jail, but have been fined under 1,000 euros will be pardoned entirely.

The Portuguese government justified its decision, saying Francis’s “life and pontificate have been heavily marked by appeals to social rehabilitation of those who are at odds with penal law.”

The amnesty will not apply to all young people however.

They won’t qualify if they’ve been found guilty of violent or serious crimes.

Portugal lists these as homicide, infanticide, domestic violence, battery, kidnapping, forced marriage, money laundering, sexual abuse, and incitement to hatred or violence.

The Pope’s visit

Francis will be with the young pilgrims from 2 to 6 August.

Portugal is expecting over a million young visitors to take part in the 1-6 August international event.

It will culminate in an all-night vigil and final mass with the Pope on 5-6 August.

Nearly ready

The WYD Foundation, which the Patriarchate of Lisbon created, is overseeing the event organisation.

The Foundation says everything will be ready on time. It also says Vatican envoys are impressed with how things are progressing.

The only concern involves families volunteering to host pilgrims. There just haven’t been enough so far.

Just weeks before the first groups arrive in Lisbon and surrounding cities, only around 20,000 people have familes to host them – well below the 100,000 target.

While many families are expected to volunteer closer to the date, organisers have been forced to find alternatives, asking public schools to receive pilgrims as well.

Both the Government and local city councils have been working with the Church to ensure the event is a success.


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